Mel had a great post recently about judgement in the IF community. It's a post that makes you think about all aspects of your life - not just infertility.
I felt bad after reading it. Not bad about the post, of course, but bad about myself. Why? Because it made me think about all of the times in my life when I've been judgmental . . . and there are plenty of them.
We all judge. I get that. When we first meet somewhat, we have an initial impression of that person within the first few seconds just based on things like their look, the way they talk, the way they shake your hand, etc. How firm is their handshake? Do they make eye contact? Do they sound interested? Are they attractive? Are they well groomed? It sounds like a checklist of what to think about before a job interview, but in reality it's a checklist for all of life's interactions. These are all thoughts that cross our mind when meeting a person for the first time.
On the Internet, this "meeting" is a little different. We judge other bloggers by standards like the look of their site, the way they write their posts, their comments and interactions with other, their content, and the depth in which they tell their stories. Even though many of us have never met face-to-face, we still judge one another. It's the reason why we read or don't read certain people's blogs. It's the reason why many of us have our "cliques" and we don't venture outside of them.
I don't want to think that it goes far beyond the empathy Mel writes about in her post, but it does. I know that I'm guilty of it. I'm guilty of negative judgment: wanting to ask people WHY they are trying to have a baby when they write constantly about their failing marriage or how they don't believe they are ready to be parents. I'm also guilty of positive judgment: wondering why someone doesn't give it "one last college try." I know others have judged me, too, good and bad.
Maybe part of this is in our control. I often feel like I'm setting myself up for judgment based on the way I write about certain things. I'm not one to shy away from controversy or to write exactly how I feel. The fact that I even have this blog and write about some of my innermost thoughts is what opens the door for people to scrutinize me. Yet, is this fair? Is it okay to judge others - even when they put everything out in the open for people to see it?
I'm not sure that it is. For instance, let's look at Kim Kardashian. We all sat around and bad mouthed her when her marriage failed after 70-something days. We said "I knew it" or "I told you so." I did it. I'll admit that first hand. And I'm no fan of the Kardashians. But now that I've had time to reflect on it, I regret saying such horrible things about her. Who am I to judge if someone leaves his or her marriage after such a short period of time? It's not my life, and I have no idea what their relationship was/is like. They could have had a terrible marriage. He could have been a complete asshole. And you know what? Good for her for standing up and saying what was best for her. Not a lot of people would do that, especially with the entire world watching and ready to throw every bad name in the book at you. No. Most people would stay married, for fear of the backlash and hurting their partner.
It's the same way I felt after judging Michelle Duggar for having another baby. Do I think it's unfair that some people can get pregnant easily while others can't? Yes. As much as I can't relate to her, I have to remind myself that it's not my place to determine how many children for her is too many. This made me especially guilty after her miscarriage. Here I was for weeks, carrying on about how I can't believe she's having another child and then she loses this baby. Does this loss become any more or less valid because she has 19 other kids? I don't think so. It's still a loss.
I've gotten better about this as I've aged. I've become less judgmental with the more life experience I have. Over time, I've learned that it's okay for friendships to end. It doesn't mean that the other person is a bitch (or that I'm a bitch), but that people grow apart and have separate interests. I've learned to not judge other people's relationships, reminding myself that I have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. I've learned not to judge people for living together or being together for years and not marrying, or for being married for years and not having children. It reminds me of this saying: Be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Who am I to determine what that battle is and whether I believe their actions because of it are appropriate?
Ultimately, there's no rule book for life. That's why we have free will: the ability to do and say whatever we please. And, in the end, the only people we need to answer to are ourselves. My opinion on the way someone else is living his or her life doesn't matter, and neither does yours. I think it's easier to get wrapped up in what another person is doing. It's harder to let it go - let people live their lives and speak their minds without passing judgment.
I'm going to try my best from now forward to take this harder, higher road. It won't be simple. I just know that I would want others to do the same for me.